Capacity Building Program on Human Rights Advocacy and Migrant Workers in the Middle East (2013)

Program Dates: 10-14 November (2013)

Location: Qatar

The program focused on the challenges of implementing agreed international human rights and labour rights standards to ensure migrant workers are treated with respect for their dignity and rights.  Millions of migrant workers, men and women, travel from Africa and Asia to work in the GCC States

 – in construction, manufacturing and service sectors – and as domestic workers

.  They work under the Kafala (sponsorship) system, which is attracting growing international criticism for the vulnerability it creates. 

A highlight of this program was the interaction with Professor François Crépeau,the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, at the conclusion of his first official country mission to Qatar – his first mission to any GCC country.  The Special Rapporteur emphasised capacity building of migrant workers and their advocates as a key strategy of empowerment and lasting change.

The training program included sessions on international human rights and labour rights standards and mechanisms relevant to the rights of migrant workers (such as the Kafala system).      Expert resource persons included Mr Azfar Khan from the ILO’s Beirut office, Ms Miriam Boudraa from the ILO Training Centre in Turin and William Gois from Migrant Forum Asia.  There were sessions on the role of the media, alliance building, advocacy and lobbying.  There was also a field trip tobuild knowledge of the living conditions of migrant workers.

The course was held in Arabic and English with simultaneous translation. On the final day participants were asked to evaluate the program. These evaluations were both thoughtful and positive and will help with future planning.  This report draws on those evaluations.